The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Brenda Bowser Soder (202) 370-3323,

Obama Asks Muslim Nations to Be Partners in the Pursuit of Human Rights and Democracy

Cairo Speech Sets New Course for Foreign Relations, Reiterates Promise to Close Guantanamo Facility


Noting that President Obama's speech from Cairo sets an important
new course in American foreign policy, Human Rights First Chief
Executive Officer Elisa Massimino stated:

"It was refreshing to hear President Obama invite Egypt and other
nations throughout this important region to become equal partners in
the pursuit of democracy and human rights. The United States cannot
unilaterally impose new policies, and today's remarks reflect a keen
understanding of that reality. Only through protection of human rights
and the guarantee of freedom of religion, speech, and political
expression can a nation truly embrace the riches of democracy.

"President Obama also reiterated his commitment to lead by example
with regards to human rights. We welcomed his renewed commitment to
close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by early next
year. This is an important step that must happen if the United States
is to reclaim its moral authority and partner with other nations to
enhance human rights protections."

Last week, Human Rights First released How to Promote Human Rights in Egypt, a
blueprint that outlines steps the administration should take to push
for human rights reforms in its negotiations with this strategic
partner. Many of the recommendations discussed in the report were
echoed in President Obama's Cairo speech.

Human Rights First is a non-profit, nonpartisan international human rights organization based in New York and Washington D.C. Human Rights First believes that building respect for human rights and the rule of law will help ensure the dignity to which every individual is entitled and will stem tyranny, extremism, intolerance, and violence.